Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings delivered an ode to Portis to mark the author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock.”
The Walter Scott prize did an analysis of prize submissions since its eight years of existence-with 650 novels submitted-and found that “38% of its submissions were set in the 20th century, while 19% were set in the Victorian era, between 1837 and 1901.” They also found many of the submissions focus on World Wars II and II and that the number of women historical fiction writers submitting their work has gone up.”The [Walter Scott] Prize celebrates quality, innovation and longevity of writing in the English language, and is open to books first published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth,” the breakdown is fascinating.
Suzan-Lori Parks wrote a play every day during Trump’s first 100 days as president which will be published next year as 100 Plays for the First Hundred Days. She talks to American Theatre about why she decided to undertake such a project, how difficult the process was and the importance of showing up and being present. Includes excerpts from the book.
Nick Stockton wonders why writers are such bad proofreaders of their own work. He argues that it is hard to catch typos because our brains arrive at meaning faster by taking shortcuts. Also enjoy this skit of Strunk & White in conversation with the grammar police.
Everyone should read this extremely important interview with Matt Gallagher and Phil Klay, two talented writers who are also veterans of the Iraq war. Klay won the National Book Award in 2014 for his collection Redeployment–even Obama loved it. From drone strikes to PTSD to finding purpose after war, this interview covers a lot of bases. Phil Klay’s Year in Reading from 2014 is a little dated but worth a look.
Two off-site appearances in as many months from our otherwise relatively reclusive editor, C. Max Magee? And both times invoking the theme of lost adolescence? Something’s afoot! Last month, Max dropped by The Morning News‘ booth for the Tournament of Books’ zombie round, and now he’s joining a star-studded cast at The Awl to answer the question, “What Books Make You Cringe To Remember?”